GUEST POST from Don: 5-Star Reviews (and other lies…)

5-STAR Reviews (and other lies)

I once worked for a business that rewarded its workers every time they were named in a 5-star Google review of the company.  Dutifully, each employee would ask customers for a 5-star Google review and hand them their business card.  Of course, the result was a lot of 5-star reviews for the business that mentioned an employee by name.  You get what you pay for (as far as reviews are concerned).  

One constant in life (one of many) is that people lie.  In pest control I would ask “How long have you had bed bugs?”  The customer would lie and say, “Maybe a couple weeks.”  The number of cast-off-skins under the bed and blood spots on the pillow cases told me that they had them for over a year.  Is this a contest? … > “Let’s Fool the Professional!”<

Once I was checking reviews for hotels for a stay in a distant city.  Looking at one hotel, I checked the Google reviews.  4 out of 5 reviews were 5-star.  The fifth was usually a 1-star that included these words “Don’t believe the 5-star reviews.”  After reading about 20 of the good reviews I saw a pattern…some hotel employee had been tasked with writing good reviews every Sunday night during his shift.  In other words, he was being paid to lie on Google for his employer, which was far cheaper than fixing the troubling issues.  Since then I always READ the 20-30 most recent reviews, not just trust the overall average, which can go back YEARS before the current owner.

We have to rely on reviews, it seems.  However I don’t trust them.  People lie.  All a review can do is give you small blurry snapshots.  The real picture is when YOU buy the product or service.  In the old days before internet, if you liked the experience you would go back to the same hotel next time you were in town.  Now we trust strangers.

Second, I’m not so sure reviews are all that helpful.  Remember, half of adults were in the bottom 50% of their graduating class.  They don’t know how to give a review, but they are still permitted to post them…and I am sensing that those people are MORE likely to actually take the time.

You’ve got your “I’m ticked off because my hotel room did not have a StarMint on my pillow” complainers.

You’ve got your “I’m spoiled and I don’t like ‘ordinary’ hotels” complainers.

You’ve got your “My room smelled like someone else may have slept there before” complainers.

Then, you have those who genuinely had a bad experience.

As a review reader, I have to throw out the junk mail, and pay attention to the actual issues.  <Whining voice> “Can’t someone PLEEEZE do that for me!!!!!”

I was reading reviews for a bathroom scale recently.  By the way, for an unknown reason a lot of people get really ticked off by bathroom scales!  People complained that the scale was too small.  (This is a problem?  Every one else complains when a scale takes up too much space.)  
Some said they couldn’t read the numbers.  (That’s what the camera on your phone is for.)
I was merely looking for one that was ACCURATE.  I remember the era when people expected an inaccurate scale, and had to manually zero it each time by a thumb-dial.  Accuracy is the most important part of the device.  Yet almost no reviews mentioned that issue.  I want to know if the scale lies as much as some people do.

The strangest thing about bathroom scales was how hard it was to find one rated higher than 3.5 no matter the price.  I would say that if you buy the lowest-priced gizmo you should not expect accuracy or durability.  However, if you buy a triple-priced one, you should find ratings higher than 3.5.  Manufacturers don’t understand what customers want if they are still making poorly designed scales that cost over $100.

Third, I give a review ONLY when I want to give a review.

It seems everyone wants you to do a service survey or leave a review.  I don’t.  If they treated me right (which they SHOULD) I will be pleased and my actual “review” is that I will do business with them again.  I am tempted, when a review is requested, to send them an opportunity to review ME as a customer.  But that is silly.  If they did not want me to be a customer they have the same opportunity I have: 1) tell me to never return or 2) refuse to cash my check.  Since they have done neither, I assume they like me (or my money).

Too many places want a review.  My doctor wants one, my dentist wants one, my vet wants one, my grocery store wants one…they can “want one” all they want.  I refuse to toss reviews against every curb like candy at an Independence Day parade.

Every time I buy something online (rare) they follow up with a “product review.”  Sometimes the request comes before they have fulfilled my order.  Mmmm!  I’m tempted to give them what they just asked for…but I TRY not to be a jerk.  (I will definitely give a review if the high priced and highly hyped product turns out to be a lemon.  How about not selling worthless junk in the first place, ‘eh?  Then I don’t have to give you a bad review!!!)

I can count on two fingers how many times I’ve filled out a review in the last two years.  Yup!  My limit is exactly “ONE REVIEW PER YEAR!”  Sorry, Amazon, I gave at the office!

Copyright 2023 Donald Whelpley


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2 thoughts on “GUEST POST from Don: 5-Star Reviews (and other lies…)

  1. Good one! You provide great information each post.
    It cracks me up when a company asks for a review before I receive the service or product.
    Also, if your hospital or doctor’s office mails you a review that they say is anonymous, do not believe that lie! I worked in a hospital opening those Press Gainey reviews and when someone wrote a bad review,we could just scan the barcode and know exactly who sent it. The hospitals really should be penalized for lying by claiming that the written mail-in reviews are anonymous.

  2. Thanks Dog mom E!
    My wife, too, had noticed the bar code stuff on many “anonymous” review forms…I guess we always have been overly cautious and never sent one back.

    First, the most interesting part of writing is the research. Authenticity comes from there. That’s information.
    Second, A good artist once told me that when he does his art and it does not turn out the way he imagined it…he doesn’t sell it. For him, it is not art if he fails to convey his vision, even if others think it is good enough. A poet friend feels much the same. My hope also is to share my imagination.

    I appreciate your kind words.

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